Irine Fokine (1922–2010)
For 60 years, Irine Fokine, niece of Ballets Russes choreographer Michel Fokine, taught challenging, no-nonsense classes at her studio in Ridgewood, NJ. Her students went on to dance in top ballet companies, on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall (where her brother, Leon Fokine, had also danced).
Miss Fokine’s mother, Alexandra Fedorova, had mounted the first one-act Nutcracker on the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and often came to the studio to teach or advise. Fedorova had been mentored by Anna Pavlova, who in turn became Irine’s godmother.
American Ballet Theatre dancer Eric Tamm remembers the discipline and demands of studying with Fokine. “Knowing what it is to devote yourself in mind and body to ballet—that was what she was able to get a 14-year-old, with plenty of other distractions, to do. I fell in love with the artform because of that,” he says.
Last summer Fokine closed down the Irine Fokine School of Ballet. This last December would have been her first without The Nutcracker. However, her Nutcracker lives on through productions at daughter Donna Decker’s school in Oneonta, NY, and granddaughter Rena Backer’s studio in Phoenix, AZ.
Wendy Perron is editor in chief of Dance Magazine and a former student of Irine Fokine.
As the director of dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Belmont, Massachusetts, Istvan Cserven organizes the biannual student showcases, prepares dancers for competition and trains new instructors. On top of all that, he teaches the upper-level technique classes. A former ballroom champion in Hungary, he is well-acquainted with both rhythm and smooth ballroom-dance styles.
In an event inspired by the words of President John F. Kennedy, The Washington Ballet will perform the world premier of WHO WHEN WHY this Saturday, June 24, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Kogod Courtyard.
After having spent a lifetime looking at ourselves in the mirror, constantly appraising, who of us wouldn't want to take a dance class in the dark? Two Australian dance students, Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, had the same thought in 2009 when they founded No Lights No Lycra, a global dance community that offers dancers and nondancers alike the chance to get their groove on in a dark space, where there's no light, no Lycra, no technique, no teacher and no steps to learn. It's just a place to lose yourself in the music and find your own dance mojo. The event became so popular that it spread past its Melbourne beginnings, first throughout Australia and now, globally.
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.