Just the musings of a small-town professional ballerina, business owner, wife, and beagle mama as she attempts to make it through this thing called life.

Mar 28, 2011

Q & A with Natalia Kremen

The lovely Natalia Kremen, an artist with the English National Ballet, leads a busy and exciting life that many of us can only dream of. Within her busy schedule she managed to find a spare moment to endure a few Q&A.

Ballerinablogger: So you're a company member with the English National Ballet. How old were you when you first joined the company and what made you decide on that specific company?

Natalia: I am dancing with English National Ballet almost 5 years and my motivation to move here was quite simple. First of all I met my future husband David Makhateli ( Principal dancer with ROH) in London while I was on tour with my previous company, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre (where I was on soloist position). I audition to English National Ballet and Wayne offered me a permanent contract.

And second of all I always wanted to have much wider repertoire. I wanted to get opportunity to dance in ballets by MacMilan, Ashton, Nuriev, Lifar and other great choreographers.

Ballerinablogger: At what age did you begin dancing?

Natalia: About 7 and at the age of 10 I went to the Moscow Ballet Academy.

Ballerinablogger: What are some of the roles you've played in the past? If you had to choose a favorite what would it be?

Natalia: I have danced many soloist roles and I love them all. But the most inspiring and challenging for me was to dance with my husband David. After all his great partners like Darcey Bussell, Tamara Rojo, Nina Ananiashvili and others you want to be on the same level. My favourite is Giselle, Raymonda and the Romeo and Juliet pas de deux.

Ballerinablogger: Do you have any tricks-of-the-trade regarding pointe shoes? Any specific techniques that you use to sew them or prepare them for a show?
Natalia: I danced for the long time in Grishko Shoes. Which I think are one the most elegant and beautiful pointe shoes. Later under various circumstances I had to change them to Bloch. Which fit my feet perfectly. But I am still representing the Grishko and dancing in their costumes and ballet clothes.
I don't have any specific techniques to sew them. Just breaking them in, making them soft in the specific parts and sewing them in my way, which I can't really describe.

Ballerinablogger: How many hours a day/how many days a week do you dance?

Natalia: For example, one of the last weeks which was very busy with the shows. It was around 7 hours (that includes ballet class) a day and 6 days a week.

Ballerinablogger: What made you realize that you wanted to be a ballet dancer?

Natalia: My father was a ballet dancer. Somehow he never wanted for me to follow in his foot steps. But I passed all the exams to enter the Moscow Ballet Academy very easily and all his friends from the ballet world said that we couldn't lose this chance and I have all facilities to become a ballet dancer. I was like a Bambi at that age. Looong legs and arms so I had to work twice as hard to put them all together.

Ballerinablogger: Is balancing a full-time career and relationships/social life difficult?

Natalia: I think all relationships are hard work. To create a happy family you have to work every day on it. We are working in the different companies so it means we have a different schedule and of course it's very difficult specially to plan our holidays or to dance together in galas. But it helps to keep our relations fresh.

Ballerinablogger: Do you have any upcoming performances? If so, what is your role?

Natalia: Next on schedule is Ballet Gala "Ave Maya" (Tribute to Maya Plisetskaya) which will take place in April, Athens, Greece. I am very much looking forward to share the stage with such a big Russian Legend and other great dancers.

Ballerinablogger: What would your dream part be?

Natalia: I would choose the role of Manon or Tatiana (from Eugene Onegin)
Ballerinablogger: Do you have a pre-performance ritual that gets you in the zone for a show?
Natalia: Just trying to concentrate on the role and stay calm.
Ballerinablogger: What is the best piece of advice you could offer to aspiring dancers?
Natalia: Learn, research, watch, read and analyze all ballets, dancers, technique, ballet history and traditions.
Thanks so much to Natalia! Here's a video of Natalia performing as Juliet with her husband as Romeo.

Thanks for reading everybody!

Mar 21, 2011

The Secret to Turning

As you watch the Black Swan Coda and the regal Prince Siegfried enters the stage to begin his sequence of turns you realize that in a matter of seconds the Black Swan will come to perform the legendary sequence of thirty-two fouettes. Butterflies flutter in your own stomach at the thought and you can hardly fathom how the ballerina about to perform the amazing feat must feel. You lean forward in your seat as the audience applauds Prince Siegfried and the Black Swan takes the stage, opening her sequence with a double pirouette and whipping out triples in between every few rotations.

How does she do it, you wonder? Well the secret is ultimately in a science as old as time, physics. 

In order to make a top spin continuously, its proportions must be constructed just so, so its features are capable of maintaining balance and momentum. The situation is no different with a pirouette. In order to maintain your balance your standing side must be perfectly aligned or, like an unbalanced top, you'll fall right over.

What I mean by keeping your "standing side aligned" is that your shoulder, ribs and hip must all come into the proper alignment to maintain a stable position. Here are a few examples of some successful turners:

Although the identity of this phenomenal turner is unknown , this woman is the star in the YouTube video with over two-million views called Super Pirouette. Please watch it below, this is one of the most amazing turning sequences I've ever seen:

In the picture above you can see the vertical and horizontal lines that I have drawn over her body. It illustrates how her shoulders are perfectly even with each other and her hip, ribs and shoulder have all come into alignment. Although very few of us can turn just like her, it's important to know where that "sweet spot" is. The photo of her above would be her "sweet spot" aka: the position where your body is well aligned and you can feel yourself in balance.

 For anyone out there that follows Anaheim Ballet's YouTube channel then you'll probably recognize this girl: Aria Alekzander. She makes performing an octuple pirouette seem as easy as breathing.

Aria has also found her sweet spot and took advantage of it. Her body is perfectly perpendicular while turning and although you can see her slightly falling of her leg in the video, she knows how to pick herself back up in order to get back to her sweet spot. In this video you'll see the same example:
So the secret is all about finding your sweet spot and it's the same situation with men as well. Stand at the barre and go into passe. Shift yourself around until you find that one spot where everything just seems to lock into place. Memorize that position and practice springing up into passe and quickly returning to that specific spot. Now the hard part is getting into that spot every time you turn.

Aside from finding that sweet spot, fouettes also require something else in order to improve them... Practice. Fouettes are one of the most difficult movements in ballet. You've just got to work at them again and again, receiving corrections from a teacher and memorizing the feeling of that sweet spot until you find yourself spinning just like a top. Everyone has a different body so there isn't one universal position that every ballerina strives to find. The sweet spot that balances out all of a person's features will be slightly different. Even if you're standing at the kitchen counter, talking to your parents as they make dinner, go into passe and find that sweet spot, then hold it for as long as you can. Ballet is all about muscle memory so find that sweet spot and don't let it go!
Thanks for reading!

Post your thoughts and questions in a comment below!


Mar 17, 2011


Hey guys! I've been super sick the past two days. Fever of 102 degrees, searing throat and a headache that feels like two pans are smacking either side of my head. I have some articles that should be posted within the next few days so I hope that you'll all hang in there until then! I've got a dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty in 2 DAYS! Eeep! I hope this flu will go away by then. :(

Thanks lovelies!


Mar 7, 2011

Update 3/7/2011

Good evening blogging community! I'm fresh out of a rehearsal for my company's production of Sleeping Beauty and it's improving more and more everyday. Aside from the two solos (Woodland Glade Fairy and the Sapphire Fairy) I am performing three other corps de ballet roles. The roles are: Garland Waltz in Act I, a Dryad in Act II and a Lilac Fairy Attendant in the Prologue. It's a lot of work especially when rehearsing the Prologue as I'm paying attention to two roles at once. (Lilac Fairy Attendant and the Woodland Fairy are occasionally on stage at the same time)

The identical version to the Sapphire Fairy variation I am performing is unfortunately not available on YouTube. Rather than having three stones (Sapphire, Gold and Silver) behind the Diamond Fairy, we do it more similarly to a 1970's version of the Royal Ballet in which each stone performs their own variation and not only a pas de trois. The Woodland Fairy variation is also not found on YouTube but is performed in the Prologue like most classic interpretations. Despite some searches I haven't found a fitting video for the corps de ballet roles but to anyone interested in owning a DVD of Sleeping Beauty, we perform a resembling version to theirs.
Click HERE to find it on Amazon.com

The performance is in eighteen days! It's very nerve racking but I think we'll be ready in time... Or at least I hope we will... :p

Ballerinablogger ~

New Layout

I'm changing up the blog a bit, let me know what you guys think!

Mar 6, 2011

Find of the Week

Bloch® Adult Warm-up Overall


These overalls are great for wearing during a warm-up just before a long day of rehearsals and for keeping your body warm in between performances. The full body design traps the heat inside to keep your muscles limber and ready to go. I haven't gotten a chance recently to wear mine but I do really love how comfortable and easy they are to simply slip on. You can buy it for $21.50 at the link above :)