It's rare when a late-starter becomes a professional dancer—much less with one of ballet's most prestigious companies—but Misty Copeland breaks the mold. She experienced her first tendu at 13, thanks to a Boys and Girls Club, and today, she's American Ballet Theatre's first African-American female soloist.
Copeland's fast track in pre-professional training led her to study with Diane Lauridsen at Lauridsen Ballet Centre in California, who Copeland thanks for her solid technique.
"When I was 15, I went to Diane because everyone said I had so much potential. But at her studio, I wasn't a star and she didn't treat me like one. I was like anyone else and I appreciate how hard she was on me. I was taking three classes a day: Beginning ballet with five and six-year-olds, an intermediate class and an advanced class. I had to catch up.
She was adamant about building strong technique. I'm flexible, have hyper-extended knees and really mobile feet--you'd think it's a blessing, but she didn't let me sit back and rely on my talent. When you get older, you start to lose some of that natural facility. I know I'll always have a clean base to fall back on."
Photo: Misty Copeland in Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream, by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.
When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.
Does your studio slow down when the weather warms up? If you don't offer a summer session, June through August can be a cash-flow challenge. One popular—and easy—strategy is to offer weeklong camps instead. We spoke to three professionals to learn how they make summer camp work.
This week Ballet Hispánico launched its first ChoreoLaB workshop, a summer intensive intended to better prepare aspiring professional dancers—with more than just excellent technique. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro wanted to create a program that bridges the school and the company, to help dancers transitioning into the professional world and better hone their skills.
The language of Mind Body Dancer is dynamic. "Action words stimulate change in your students," says yoga teacher TaraMarie Perri. "Try 'pour,' 'push' and 'experience' –not 'feel' or 'do or don't' Those words don't mean anything." Here, Perri and dancer Maggie Ronan use the active MBD language to demonstrate yoga poses used as a warm-up in many dance classes. While practicing, be sure to inhale and exhale in steady cycles.