Elena Altman in Balanchine's Jewels
Elana Altman trained at the San Francisco Ballet School, and became an apprentice with the company in 2000. She joined the corps de ballet a year later, and in 2005, was promoted to soloist. This month, Altman will perform in George Balanchine's Coppélia.
Altman credits much of her ballet training to SFBS teacher Pascale Leroy:
Pascale was the first teacher to point out how to keep your weight on the balls of your feet. As a student, you spend so much time on one standing leg, but she had us shift very quickly in all directions. She also demonstrated our combinations in the tempo she wanted. Though she verbally explained corrections, watching her perform the steps in correct time was really how I learned best.
In Coppélia, I dance the soloist role of "War and Discord," which has a lot of fast movements with very precise musicality. Pascale's training helped me define moments of syncopation within the tricky section.
Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy San Francisco Ballet
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This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
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