While imagery often helps dancers attain a shape or understand a concept, the type of imagery used can vary widely from teacher to teacher. During his training with Chicago-based ballet teacher Larry Long, former Joffrey Ballet principal Davis Robertson learned to equate ballet technique with food.
"Every correction he ever gave was related to food. He'd say, 'Turn out, like you're peeling an avocado. Beat your legs like you're chopping onions.' He loved to cook. I would be ravenous in ballet class! But it worked. Petit allegro was something I initially struggled with, and thanks to Larry--who had the most extraordinary petit allegro--it ultimately became one of my favorite things."
Joffrey Ballet School students from the children's and young dancers programs, as well as guests from the Joffrey Concert Group, will present The Nutcracker in New York, December 13-15. www.joffreyballetschool.com
Photos courtesy of Joffrey Ballet School
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The exhibit Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 is filled with exhibits, performances and conferences honoring the three postmodern dance living legends.
"I describe it as organized chaos," says Kimberly Rishi with a laugh, as she hunts for a quiet space inside her 12,000-square-foot studio in Ashburn, Virginia. In any given week, Studio Bleu Dance Center's 11 dance studios accommodate 800 enrolled students, 52 staff members, adults who take drop-in classes, plus kids in vocal and piano programs and an affiliated ballet conservatory. "It may look like there's always a party going on," Rishi says, "but that's not the case. There's a schedule, and everyone knows where they're headed."
When Rishi took the reins in 2003, there were only 80 students, 20 of whom were competitive. Today, 300 dancers are enrolled for the competition program. And just this winter, she launched a musical theater program, taking in triple-threat hopefuls in the area. While the Ashburn area (outside of Washington, DC) is burgeoning, faculty member Heidi Moe says Studio Bleu's growth is due to more than changing demographics. It's the direct result of Rishi's business experience and leadership ability.
Irish dancer Cara Butler remembers the helpful advice that her teacher Donny Golden gave her as a child to ease her mind before competitions.
"I remember that he was really good at calming my nerves as a kid. He would always say, 'Your nerves are a form of energy. Use it as fuel.' That was something, especially when I was younger, that would always get me through it. I find that even today I still get nervous about certain performances. But he taught me to just use it as energy and think of it as a good thing. If you're not nervous, where is the emotion and the passion? Nerves are good."
Dancer and choreographer Chuck Davis, who founded the largest African dance festival, DanceAfrica, and performance company African American Dance Ensemble, died Sunday at his home in Durham, North Carolina. He was 80. Known for his benevolent spirit and powerful presence, he was committed to keeping the roots of African dance alive, as well as fusing together the older traditions with contemporary choreography. In 2004 he was honored with a Dance Magazine Award and a Bessie Award in 2014 for outstanding service to the field of dance.