The pros make it look easy. I’ve never noticed how challenging the "Waltz of the Flowers" was, until I watched the advanced girls at Ballet Academy East perform that stamina-testing Balanchine work in their 2012 Studio Showing. Maybe it’s because my eyes start to glaze over by the time "Waltz" hits in Act II, or it’s because the piece is so long that I (admittedly) fade out, or it’s because the NYCB dancers do it so effortlessly that I stop caring. But that was certainly not the case last night. It’s not to say the dancers made it look hard—the students performed it terrifically. It was their drive—a want to nail it perfectly—that was so captivating and refreshing; I was hooked the whole time.
But that piece is certainly no cakewalk. Not only does it last forever, the girls weave in and out of each other creating new formations, lines and pathways constantly. After one particularly challenging transition, directors Julia Dubno and Darla Hoover (who were sitting behind me) whispered a resounding “Yes!” It was great to hear that something the students must have been struggling with in rehearsals worked out in performance.
As a teacher, I get extremely nervous a few weeks before shows. I can feel my moods switch in rehearsal—usually for the worst. Why can’t my kids just remember to do X, Y and Z? Last night’s performance reminded me to calm down. Students, who produce beautiful work on stage, may have not been absolutely perfect in rehearsal—and maybe for the better. The difference between students and pros is consistency. Sure, a pro will always a nail triple pirouette—that’s what makes her a pro. But there’s something way more exciting in watching a student (who may only do it correctly half the time) get it right and appreciate it that much more.
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.
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.