Ballet boys on ‘Jeopardy!’

Last night on a Kids Week episode of Jeopardy! one of the categories was “Boys in Ballet.” Neat! The kids left it to the very end, though it turned out to be a pretty easy category. By the way I was surprised there wasn’t a clue about Billy Elliot. Here are the clues and responses; test your knowledge!


  • $400 This stretchy one-piece garment for both sexes was named for a guy, a French acrobat
  • $800 In the ballet Checkmate, the red one of these gets to die an agonizing death at the hands of the black queen
  • $1200 Boys’ classes often emphasize jumps, maybe even the difficult tour en l’air, which means this in the air
  • $1600 (Daily Double) A boy named Fritz breaks this title gift given to his sister Clara by Drosselmeyer
  • $2000 After a performance, ballerinas curtsy; men perform a small one of these equivalent gestures
“What is…?”

Correct responses

  • Leotard
  • King
  • Turn (The contestant answered twirl, which was accepted.)
  • The Nutcracker (The contestant–the same one who answered twirl/turn above–risked $1000, but couldn’t come up with an answer.)
  • Bow

How’d you do?

Waltzing into 2012

OK, I meant to post some new stuff in the last couple of weeks (and do indeed have a few ideas in draft form), but you know how it goes, especially over the holidays. I will say that 2011 has been a great year in ballet for me. I started taking classes and attended more performances (and was able to include a bit of travel), and got to know a bunch of you awesome ballet bloggers and tweeters.

One of my little New Year’s traditions is to record the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day concert. I love Strauss as much as the next Wiener, but when I get around to watching it I fast-forward to the lovely ballet segments (usually filmed in some gorgeous Viennese palace) and to Julie Andrews’s intros from various locations around the city.

There will be three ballet pieces this year, choreographed by Davide Bombana and featuring members of the Vienna State Ballet. The pieces aren’t indicated separately in the program, but I do see that excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty are listed, so I’m guessing that’s one of them.

[Addendum: The three pieces, here linked to YouTube videos are: “Enjoy Life,” “Burning Love,” and “Blue Danube.”]

Check your local listings; here in the Bay Area it airs on KQED on Sunday, January 1, at 10:30 p.m. and again the next day at 4:30 a.m.

See you in 2012 with more ballet shenanigans. Happy new year and happy dancing!

Lady Gaga with a ballet twist

I caught Ellen yesterday ’cause I knew Lady Gaga was going to be a guest, but little did I know her performance of “Marry the Night” would be so ballet-themed! Broken mirrors, crooked barres, torn tights: it’s ballet Lady Gaga-style. There isn’t a ton of bona fide classical ballet steps in this routine, but there are hints of some sprinkled in here and there.

Check it out. And if you’re looking for the danseurs — including my favorite, the quirky SYTYCD contestant turned smoldering backup dancer Mark Kanemura — they come on around 1:40 during Gaga’s shoe change. (And some pointe shoes they are!)

By the way did anyone catch her Thanksgiving TV special? It was pretty good; I have to say I enjoyed it more than I had expected.