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Misty Copeland

1_538f68a976ab7Misty Copeland is fast becoming a household name.2_600full-misty-copelandShe took her first ballet class when she was 13. 3_0e1dd13bdc0812a0c060e0a3a47c6281After just 3 short months she was en pointe. By the age of 14, Copeland was the winner of a national ballet contest and won her first solo role.4_mistyimage3Since then she has worked steadily to become the only African-American woman soloist in the dance company for the American Ballet Theatre.5_5388a87d7bb7bEarlier this year in March, Copeland’s autobiography Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina was released which led her into an even brighter spotlight. 6_bomdiaThis inspiring story is one I am looking forward to reading. 7_102113-shows-bgr-honorees-misty-copeland-portrait-ballet-press-2Her upbringing had her in court in the middle of custody battles between her mother & ballet teachers (who were acting as her guardians). 8Nowadays Misty has numerous endorsements – the most recent being for Under Armour which reportedly paid her more to model for their campaign than her dance career.9_misty2n-310_Misty_Copeland_Italian_Vogue_0811_4625553336_febc7bcb07_z12_misty_copeland_13_Misty-Copeland-914_misty-815_misty-copeland-116_fi-misty-copeland17_misty-618_1234729_658910467455107_710708630_n19_o-MISTY-COPELAND-UNDER-ARMOUR-facebook20_Misty-Copeland-Workout21_full22_pantene_misty24_235_1misty_composite25_Misty Copeland26_safe_image28 feayred Misty-Copeland-Workout (1)For more info on Misty Copeland check out her website here.247_end_A001_C004_1003TP_001.0000841If you feel inspired to channel your inner ballerina, join us Monday nights for a very special adult beginner ballet workshop with Rhiain Fernie.

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Dancer of the Week

Rhiain Fernie, Just Dance‘s own Adult Introduction to Ballet teacher is a professional ballerina having just finished her studies at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York.

This Audrey Hepburn look-alike is currently on a short break in Australia before moving back to the United States to further her career. Rhiain shares her story here…

How old were you when you started to dance? I actually started with rhythmic gymnastics when I was 5 then changed to ballet when I was 8.

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Do you have a first dance memory? My first memory is of getting the studio trophy for “Dancer of the Month” when I was the new kid in the school & I would wear my mum’s old ballet leotard from when she was a young girl!

Where have you been trained? Carolyn Gibbs Academy of Dance, The Hills Dance Factory, Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, The Ballet School Australia, Joffrey Ballet School New York. And casual classes with Vicki Attard, Prudence Bowen & Gina Brescianini at Sydney Dance Company.

Was it hard to get into Joffrey Ballet School? I did an open audition at Sydney Dance Company with the director of Joffrey ballet School. It was a full class with about 60 applicants. JBS had open auditions in all major cities around the world including Russia. Only 50 students get picked per year, so I was quite excited when I received my acceptance letter. 601709_4984765299788_1409903524_nWas it always your goal to study at Joffrey Ballet School? My goal is just to be the best that I can be, no matter where that takes me or where I end up.

What is the best thing about living in NYC? New York City is definitely the place to be for artists & performers! There is so much creativity & excitement within the whole city. It’s quite normal to see a group of boys doing back-flips on the subway at 7am! I often saw films sets on the streets (Spider Man & The Carrie Diaries), which was cool. Manhattan is also the home of the American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House which I loved seeing more than anything! The opportunities are endless & one thing’s for sure, it’s impossible to get bored in the city that never sleeps!1454932_10201099841001036_351007652_nWhat do you miss most about Australia when living in NYC? VEGEMITE!! Haha. Of course I miss my family & friends. I also miss my 2 adorable cats A LOT!! I miss the open spaces, quietness & the wildlife. (NYC is just full of pigeons!) I miss being able to put my groceries into a car & not having to carry them 5 blocks & up to the 6th floor of a walk-up!

Any famous ballerina’s or choreographers whose work you admire? Misty Copeland has come up in the media recently & I’ve always had an admiration for her work. Reading more about her story has given me an extra drive of determination. She is going to be an inspiration to so many dancers in the generations to come, for sure!

I was actually fortunate enough to work with Josie Walsh from San Francisco in my first year at Joffrey. Josie cast me as one of her lead dancers in her contemporary ballet “Urban Angels”. Her choreography is so creative & inspiring. When you know the story behind the movement it’s just surreal. I absolutely loved every minute performing Josie’s choreography._photo 1 (2)Any memorable stage outfits you have worn in the past? My most prized possession is probably my hand made $600 tutu (above) that I actually got second hand!! A fun costume was with the Sydney City Youth Ballet when we were doing a production of “The Polar Express” we had these giant wings that were bigger than me! They had lots of heavy wire in them & we had to pirouette whilst wearing them, it was so hard to dance whilst getting whipped in the face or pulled in the opposite direction by these giant wings!!

What do you love most about dance? Dance is a form of expression through movement. I’ve always found myself being able to escape into another “world” when I’m dancing… I can forget about the worries of the real world for that moment & just enjoy being able to move to the most beautiful music. I love being able to act different characters & pretend to be something else, it’s great fun. I also love performing on stage in glamorous costumes! new featured imageWhat has been your greatest  dance achievement so far? There have been quite a few I don’t know if one is better than another! Being asked to perform at the World Youth Day vigil in 2008 for the Pope was an exciting honour! Before I left for New York I was awarded Highly Commended in the City of Sydney’s Senior Ballet Championship, competing against dancers all over Australia. I was very grateful for my teacher Neroli Moore for her amazing choreography & coaching.

Favourite dance TV show? Tv series “Dance Academy”, hands down! Haha. (I was a regular extra in all 3 series). DANCE ACA_10402765_10154204613595722_5723834702540398882_nAre there any dance bloopers or embarrassing moments? Haha oh so many! It’s fun to laugh at yourself! My hair has fallen out in a group dance when everyone else had a neat bun…I got in so much trouble! Another time I was chaine-ing (turning) off stage when the lights blinded me, I hit a prop near the wing & my foot tripped on a cord on the floor, you guessed it, I staked it! Hit my face on the light stand on the way down. I don’t know if the audience saw it but they most probably heard it!! Also – a few years ago I was at the studio rehearsing my eisteddfod solo on our day off when I slipped & broke my wrist! (& I have this on video!). I had another production around the same time & managed to find a costume with sleeves to cover up my cast so I quickly learnt the choreography for that dance a week before the show!

What are your future dancing goals? I would love to have a professional contract & to be performing on stage with a company, touring Europe & the US. I also want to have my own dance school one day as I love teaching. 8003_10200992861086605_243929846_nHow often do you train? Full time training is 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I get a few holidays like 2 weeks over Xmas & the months of June & July for “summer break”. I enjoy coming back to Sydney during this time & I do a few classes a week, pilates twice a week & stretch at home every day.

Who has helped or encouraged you to reach where you are today? I have so many people to thank for helping & encouraging me. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my mum as my biggest supporter & my early ballet teachers, Miss Jan Megna, Miss Neroli Moore & more. I am so thankful for my sponsor who has asked to remain anonymous & for all the amazing people who donated to my fundraising campaign on Pozible last year so that I could finish my  training at Joffrey. Words can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunities that I have been so lucky to experience.  _photo 2What is next in-store for you now that you have finished up studying? I will always be learning more every day. That’s the art of dance, we strive for perfection & once you reach one goal, it only gets bigger! In September I will be starting a traineeship with Christian ballet company “Ballet Magnificat!” which is located in Jackson, the capitol city of Mississippi. As a trainee I am not paid but it is the first step into a paid position. At the end of this 9 month traineeship I hope to receive a professional contract with their touring company. 551120_10201717659646116_1150229111_nDo you have a weekly health, fitness & dance routine – any tips you can share? Usually during full time training, I get all I need in the program. Afternoon home time is for feet in ice buckets & heat packs on my lower back. I also use a lot of voltaren & deep heat creams on my muscles! If I am struggling with an injury it is nessesary however to do the extra physiotherapy excersises required as well as your daily training & monitoring it carefully. You really have to know your body well. I can’t start my day if I haven’t warmed up properly for about 45 minutes, you need to wake up every muscle & get your body ready for the crazy stuff you’re about to do!! I find doing pilates twice a week helps me become more aware of my body as it is more subtle than the vigorous regime of full time ballet. Swimming is also great on dancers joints as we’re constantly putting stress & pressure through our joints & muscles. I try to swim during my holidays.

Any tips for young, aspiring dancers wanting to improve & make a career in ballet? A big tip for dancers & any athlete is eating well before exercise! If you don’t eat, your body can’t perform. Don’t push your body too far over your limits, if you feel it’s too much you could sustain an injury that could have been avoided. Respect for your body & do what YOU feel is right for you. Don’t judge yourself next to another dancer, only try to be better than yourself, I look to other dancers merely for inspiration, motivation & to learn what to do & what not to do. Having realistic goals that constantly but slowly get bigger is easier on your mental state than expecting yourself to do 68 fouettes by lunch time just because someone else can!! first autographHave there been any obstacles where you thought to give up? Absolutely! Many times I am faced with challenges & struggle to stay positive, professional ballet is a very competitive & harsh world, so you must have a huge self belief system to pull yourself up time & time again when the industry tries so hard to push you down. I’ve learnt that I can’t rely on teachers & other people to tell me I’m a good dancer because when they are not there all you have is yourself. When I was 16 I fell over at school & broke my left knee. The ACL ligament stretched & snapped the top of the tibia bone & the meniscus was torn. I didn’t know then that I would spend 2 years recovering with a course of 3 surgeries & metal wires inserted in my knee. I knew then & there when dance was taken away from me that I could never live without it. It’s the thing that drives me & I know that if I can overcome a broken knee I can overcome anything.

What do you have in store for the next few weeks of ballet workshops with Just Dance? We have already learnt the basic arm & leg positions plus lots of different pirouettes (turns) & jumps. I want to improve these skills even further & widen their knowledge of ballet repertoire & vocabulary. Knowing the anatomy of your body is also an important key to being able to execute specific movements.  I encourage everyone & anyone to give ballet class a go, you never know until you’ve tried! More than anything, I want my students to be able to experience the joy I get when dancing!

Join us on Mondays at 7.45pm to learn the basics of ballet with this amazing teacher Rhiain.

Mondays 7:45 – 8:45pm
Turner Rooms – Balcombe Heights, Baulkham Hills
Cost – $15 
Drop in class – no need to book.
For more info please contact hello@justdancesydney.com.au or call 0433 539 372.

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Ballet at the Beach

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On a day like today it’s easy to forget it is winter in Australia.

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With cloudless blue skies, sunshine & barely a sweater needed – it’s pretty hard to comprehend that I’m going skiing this weekend & will be surrounded by snow.

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However I’m not one to limit my beach visits just to the summer. There is something so refreshing about being rugged up and walking along a beach when a gale is blowing with the waves that are stormy & wild. Most weekends you will find me at the beach…rain, hail or shine.

4 new__D3S_8989-Nigel flemming_cropSo naturally when 2 of my favourite things are combined I’m a definite fan. The beach & ballet. Sigh.

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I remember as a kid running along the sand and doing split leaps in the air. Something about that wide expanse that just makes you want to break out in a run & leap & twirl & move.

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I might get some strange looks if I did that these days but isn’t it true that we should dance like no-one’s watching?

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If you are a fan of ballet why not join us for a Ballet Workshop with professional ballerina Rhiain Fernie. She is in Australia after completing training in New York before she heading back to the US to join the America’s premier Christian ballet company, “Ballet Magnificat!”

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We have just 2 weeks left to learn from this amazing ballet teacher -adults & teens of all levels welcome – Mondays 7.45pm at Balcombe Heights (Baulkham Hills).

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We also have a Dance Photography Competition running so start clicking & send your entries in to win some great prizes.

8 & 9_weiferd_watts19_100003410_dancer adrienne by intuitiveimagesphotographyAbove dancer is Adrienne photographed by Intuitive Images

11_Australian Ballet Jubilee by Will Davidson for Vogue Australia November 2012 - 'Heavenly Creatures'Photographed by Will Davidson for Vogue Australia November issue 2012, the above is from a series called ‘Heavenly Creatures’ which features the Australian Ballet celebrating 50 years.

12_Japanese ballerina Yume Okano, a YAGP finalist and currently student at the John Cranko ballet school in Stuttgart, jumping on the beach in Okinawa, Japan. Her mother took this photo.Japanese ballerina Yume Okano (above), a YAGP finalist and currently student at the John Cranko ballet school in Stuttgart, jumping on the beach in Okinawa, Japan. Her mother took this photo.

13_beach_ballet_2_by_dgphotographyjax-d52xpes14_e5869253ab1cf692d2c64764fb654b6f16_Shell Beach California {Denver Colorado Ballet Photographer}17_Bradley Dunlap, 26, Corps de Ballet member, with the Miami City Ballet. From September through May his schedule consists of 6-hour rehearsal days and four performance weekends, six days a weekBradley Dunlap (above), 26, Corps de Ballet member, with the Miami City Ballet. From September through May his schedule consists of 6-hour rehearsal days and four performance weekends, six days a week.

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19_balletgirl220_IMG_029721_204822_Beach Party 381-2_Andris Toppe (Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Choreographer for famous skating team Torvill & Dean.)Andris Toppe (above) of the Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Choreographer for famous skating team Torvill & Dean.

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Introduction to Ballet….for Adults!

We are super excited about this 4 week course learning ballet from professional ballerina Rhiain Fernie.
You will learn ballet basics and tricks like grand jetes while building your dancers body. 
No experience or ballet shoes necessary.
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Mondays 7:45 – 8:45pm
Turner Rooms – Balcombe Heights, Baulkham Hills
Just $60 for 4 weeks
The course starts TONIGHT (Monday 21st July) so come along and join us.
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Rhiain has spent the last 2 years training in New York on a scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School, receiving a lead role in A Midsummer Nights Dream.

She is on a short break in Sydney before commencing at America’s premier Christian ballet company ‘Ballet Magnificat’ and wants to share her ballet skill, experience and love of dance with you._photo 4Our 4 week Intro to Ballet course will teach you the ballet basics – arm and leg positions and ballet tricks – grand jetes and pirouettes. Intro to Ballet is for anyone starting out in dance, keen to learn this beautiful dance style OR wishing to dust off their ballet shoes.10483627_597636550356701_5900253188550940637_nBuild your dancers body learning ballet technique, strengthening your legs and core and developing flexibility and balance. You will learn a unique ballet routine and have the privilege of watching Rhiain perform a professional ballet piece in one of her amazing costumes._photo 2Don’t miss this amazing opportunity  so contact us NOW for more information: hello@justdancesydney.com.au10340004_597636430356713_8202966288144066511_n_photo 2 (2)_photo 1 (2)

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Hayden Hopkins

1_260552_2082618955137_2516892_nHayden Hopkins having just turned 17, has developed a cult following online. 2_282747_4131452694700_1379885299_nWith more than 13,000 Facebook followers & an overwhelming number of fan pages she is fast becoming a house-hold name. 252171_2051679581672_942667_nShe is incredibly bendy and oh-so talented.4_Holly Medway Photography _hayden (3)Alongside fellow dance superstar friend, 11 year old Sophia Lucia, there are countless, beautiful dance images of her all over the internet.sophia and haydenPeople see pictures of me and think I have this perfect life,” Hayden says. Despite the pretty pictures, though, Hayden hasn’t always had it easy, and the past few years have proven especially difficult.5_250847_2052639845678_298606_nHayden started dancing at the age of 2 in her home state of Washington, US. 6_270131_10200125380567328_2040835163_nShe was a regular in the competition scene early, but by age 13 she decided it wasn’t for her. “I wanted to get away and work on my training,” she says. 7_480528_4479176587580_1195361692_nPlus, things at home were taking a turn for the worse:  family finances became a struggle, especially with Hayden’s sister, Lennox, pursuing a competitive rhythmic gymnastic career. So Hayden, who is home-schooled & lives with her sister & their mum in Puyallup, WA, took her training into her own hands. 8_697ad786b976d5bcddfa16729a2b2868 haydenShe takes classes at local studios when possible (mostly Westlake Dance Center in Seattle), travels with conventions when she’s awarded scholarships & watches YouTube videos in her living room to learn barre & centre-work exercises. 9_250720_2062029560415_1868869_nShe attends 10 to 12 conventions each year independently (including JUMP, NUVO and West Coast Dance Explosion) in an effort to meet as many choreographers as she can. 10_537553_4026992123251_164414242_nThe relentless networking has paid off.  11_1621765_834012849946980_1826833570_nAt WCDE’s Las Vegas Nationals in 2010, Hayden met the owners of an Australian studio. 12_301971_2441937857885_2088877355_nThey had seen her on YouTube first, and offered to fly her to Australia to act as a guest teacher and choreographer. 13_cms_hayden_01_068-WRHayden has since been back for another visit to work with the Perth-based studio & also won the Dance Spirit Cover Model Search competition in 2013. 14_542734_10200104800492839_691085990_nI love meeting people who recognize me from the internet,” she says. “I don’t know why people started to follow me, but hopefully it’s because they see something positive I’m putting out there15_384875_2860386118830_50121752_nThings you didn’t know about Hayden……..Birthday: July 5, 199716_418934_3292430239663_1546586697_nMost-played on her iPod: Lana Del Rey381197_4632426818740_1633001395_nWho would play her in a movie: Troian Bellisario, who plays Spencer on “Pretty Little Liars.” “I think she looks like me!

Favorite actor: Leonardo DiCaprio 423215_260261590724447_925640549_nDance goals: “I just want to be the person who’s always travelling. I always want to be in a different state or a different country.” hayden hopkinsFavorite dancers of all time: Stacey Tookey, Nick Lazzarini, Travis Wall and Jason Parsons 541600_539784852711008_395768505_nStrangest thing in her dance bag: “A rotten orange I keep forgetting to take outCMS2013_Hayden_02_125Favorite meal: Spaghetti and garlic bread553469_4059845904575_1554990771_nFavorite movie: Garden State 942515_10201285838487458_419604177_nMust-see TV shows: “Pretty Little Liars” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” “Kourtney’s my favorite.” db3b58aa7ee4637b413c347b36269e50 hayden hopkinsHere is one of her performances from earlier this year… 

 

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Dirty Dancing

Some people say I look like Jennifer Grey.

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They even go so far that they call me ‘Baby‘ and quote me lines like ‘I helped carry a watermelon’.

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As if that wasn’t enough – I can recall in high school having this obsession with going home at lunch & study breaks to watch re-runs of the dance scenes.

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And I would listen to a cassette of the soundtrack every night.

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And I admit – I’ve even tried ‘The Lift’.

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Some people might call me a fan.

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So you can imagine my surprise when at our JUST DANCE Bella Vista hip-hop class last week when the words ‘spaghetti arms‘ were used to describe a dance move – my shock at all the blank faces in the room.

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So I thought it only appropriate to educate you on my favourite dance movie of all time.

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Dirty Dancing.

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Directed by Emile Ardolino & released in 1987, Jennifer Grey stars as Frances “Baby” Houseman.

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Set in the summer of 1963 ‘Baby’ who is daddy’s golden girl who is on a family vacation where she meets & befriends the grungy dance crew – Patrick Swayze who plays his iconic role of Johnny Castle.

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Also referred to as ‘Miss Fix it’ she offers to help cover a dance show at a nearby hotel which means she needs to learn how to dance.

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The movie is a gorgeous summer romance of dancing lessons in lofty sunlight rooms, nearby forests & lakes.

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It’s a must-watch film for anyone who loves to dance.

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‘Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.’

12_DirtyDancing_180Pyxurz13_dirty-dancing-296532l14_dirty-dancing-1987-05-gJENNIFER GREY & PATRICK SWAYZE (c) Lions Gate Films16_dirty-dancing-1987-01-gPatrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey18_Dirty_Dancing_604Dirty Dancing21_dirty-dancing-jennifer-grey-and-patrick-swayze22_dirty_dancing_80423_patrick-swayze-and-jennifer-grey-in-the-film-dirty-dancing-_460-4653443824_dirtydancingbdcap4_original25_DirtyDancing_007Pyxurz26_dirty-dancingjpg-297496f2e1256edb27_dirty-dancing-lift28_dirtydancing0629_jennifer-grey3rd nd last dirty-dancing-897486l2nd last_jennifer-grey-patrick-swayze-dirty-dancing-mainlast_jennifer_grey_2_getty

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