Dance Buzz

Isabella Boylston's Master Class at NDI Inspired Kids (and Included a Special Guest)

Isabella Boylston leading a class at the National Dance Institute in Harlem. Photo by Betsy Farber

American Ballet Theatre's youngest principal ballerina, Isabella Boylston, taught a group of students at the National Dance Institute in Harlem. The 45-minute master class was filled with a short barre, center work and a visit from the institute's founder, former NYCB principal dancer Jacques d'Amboise.


Right away the kids were captivated by Boylston's humble grace. "I never liked barre that much when I was your age," Boylston admitted. "So I'm trying to get it done faster!"

She packed a lot of invaluable information into the short time, breaking down the importance of port de bras: "Remember to keep the elbows lifted, and think relaxed fingers, not spatula hands," she said. She went through how to properly spot when turning and how to add artistry in class.

She also emphasized the importance of tendus: "Every position in ballet comes from tendu, whether it's your leg up or a jump. Every time you point your foot, you want to stretch your knee to its fullest so you're engaging all the leg muscles, and point your toes to the very end so the energy doesn't stop."

Boylston teaching a pirouette combination. Photo by Betsy Farber

The master class is part of NDI's Summer Institute, a scholarship program for children drawn from NDI's In-School Program. The no-fee program is offered to kids throughout New York City, many of who are from low-income and underserved communities. It gives students further exposure to music and movement and training from a professional ballet dancer.

Photo by Betsy Farber

After Boylston led the group through a révérence, d'Amboise taught the class how to correctly bow and acknowledge the audience after a performance. "And always remember to thank the accompanist after class," he added.

Photo by Betsy Farber

Following the class, Boylston had a Q&A with questions from the students and offered some great advice for teachers.

Watch the full session below:

For more about the NDI, visit here.

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Most dancers are taught from a young age that no matter what happens onstage, the show must go on! Costume rips? Don't stop dancing. Forget the choreography? Don't stop dancing. Fall down? Get back up, but for the love of all things holy, don't stop dancing!

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This month's winner is a lyrical piece to "Wounded Animal" by Mary Lambert, performed at the Turn It Up Dance Challenge. Before setting the movement, Ashley Zelano, choreographer and artistic director at the Fierce Dance Academy in New Castle, Delaware, took a cautious approach with the 11 teenage dancers. The song describes the despair felt in a relationship where one party can't fully commit. But she understood that her teenage students might not relate to what inspires her as an adult.

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Q: I'm looking to hire new instructors. How can I create a competitive job listing?

A: We've found the best way to attract qualified applicants for teaching positions at our studio is to be as specific as possible with our expectations, while communicating what makes our studio a great place to work.

Here's an example of a job description we've used when seeking teachers:

Lead Dance Instructor: Tap/Jazz/Contemporary; Choreography for Dance Teams.

Kathy Blake Dance Studios is seeking new instructors to join our faculty. Our performing arts school, located in the Souhegan Valley of New Hampshire, has an emphasis on excellence and love for the art of dance, with a student base aged 2 to adult. We pride ourselves on paying our teachers well, offering a professionally managed front office and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among our staff.

We have an immediate opening for a dance instructor whose specialty is teaching intermediate to advanced tap, jazz and/or contemporary, as well as choreographing for competitive dance teams. We are seeking a creative, forward-thinking teacher who brings out the best in dancers. Schedule of 5 to 10-plus classes a week, based on availability. Position begins in August (or sooner, based on teacher availability). The school year runs from September through June. Pay is competitive and commensurate with experience and credentials.

Interested instructors: Please e-mail or reply to this ad with a current resumé and phone number, as well as what you love about teaching and what matters most to you in working for a dance studio.

Can't teach on our regular schedule? Please let us know if you'd like to be considered for our guest-artist master-class events.

Kathy Blake (Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire) and Suzanne Blake Gerety co-founded DanceStudioOwner.com.

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XOXO

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