Leigh Purtill of Leigh Purtill Ballet in the Pasadena/Los Angeles, California, area teaches beginner through advance ballet, including pointe. In Leigh’s words, she puts her dancers on stage! They perform at least twice a year – a spring show and Nutcracker.
She also has an amateur ballet company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company, which is for adults only. In the past, the Company has performed small sections of Leigh’s original ballet, Sweet Sorrow, at venues such as the popular horror convention, Scare LA, in Pasadena and at the ARTNight Pasadena. They will be producing the full length version in October as the first full ballet of their repertory.
Leigh is always looking for performance opportunities for her students so they can experience dancing on a stage in front of an audience, learn choreography and costume design, and in some cases, fulfill lifelong dreams. She loves hearing from students that their dreams have come true when they finish a Nutcracker or other story ballet she has produced.
Leigh’s proudest moments as a teacher occur when she sees beginner students who have never performed in front of an audience or on a stage, who have never played a character or danced choreography, really blossom on stage. Then her heart soars!
Although Leigh has seen many “biggest” mistakes made by dancers, she is going to focus on pirouettes. In her opinion, most dancers think “spin” when they mean “balance” and “impetus.” She says, “(B)efore you can turn, you need to find your proper alignment (head over torso over hips), with support leg fully pulled up, quads and hamstrings engaged, and retire leg under the hip and not hiked to the side.” She believes “it helps dancers to imagine the shape they will be turning in so they can maintain that as they turn. Dancers should practice holding a retire balance with the arms in a first position, shoulders down, back muscle engaged; ribs should be closed not splayed, and abdominal muscles held. “
Leigh teaches pirouette workshops all the time and one of her very favorite things to do as a teacher is to analyze a student’s turn – why is it not working? She loves getting into the nitty gritty details of turns, from head to toe. She wants students to realize turns are about biomechanics, not luck. ”Fill your ‘dance toolbox’ with all the resources you need and then, like a plumber with a leaky faucet, you can figure out what part you need to repair on any given day.”
Leigh’s goals this year for her brand new amateur ballet company, She is going to produce an original full length ballet called Sweet Sorrow which is based on a novel she wrote and which itself is a sequel to Romeo & Juliet. She hopes this will be the first of many!
Leigh used to teach for others but decided that she wanted to control her own destiny and not be tied to any one studio or school. According to Leigh, she has a very independent streak.
Leigh wants anyone who comes to her classes should know that she promotes positive energy and nothing competitive or destructive. She wants people to do their best and to feel good about their progress. All of her students in every single one of her classes are supportive of new students and each other. In all of her years of dancing on both the east and west coasts, she has never seen such warm and inviting classes as those she provides. She loves that her students want to know about each other and that they are quick to invite new people to participate.
Leigh believes anyone can dance and her beginner classes especially are filled with students of all ages and abilities. Many are dancing for the first time while others are returning after years of being away or an injury. She also writes a blog where she offers all kinds of tips and technique advice to adult ballet students of all levels. She also has a YouTube channel with her videos of some basic steps that students can practice at home.
If you would like more information about Leigh Purtill Ballet, visit their website at www.LeighPurtillBallet.com or email them at LeighBalletLA@gmail.com. You can also “Like” them on Facebook, view them on her YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/FitBallet or read her blog through her website or at http://fitballet.blogspot.com.
Anyone who has danced with Leigh Purtill Ballet is invited to comment on our blog.
. . . most dancers think ‘spin’ when they mean ‘balance’ and “impetus.