Editor's Note: Retooling Your Recital

Campbell Midgley of Queen City Ballet in Montana calls herself a Nutcracker masochist. “I keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, so I guess I’m insane!” Heading into the holiday recital season, perhaps you can relate.

 

In this issue we share the advice and experience of studio owners and teachers who, like Midgley, every year face the music—mostly Tchaikovsky—of ambitious recital projects. Here are their suggestions for rethinking your recital this year:

 

- In “Recital Madness,” five teachers discuss how they successfully manage recital logistics to avoid disaster.

 

- The heartwarming experiences related by the studios of “A Nutcracker with Extra Heart” show it’s worth the effort to include children with emotional or physical challenges in classes and performances.

 

- In “Telling New Tales,” three schools switch up their recital routines with an original story ballet.

 

- And in “Running on Empty,” we learn that sometimes taking a brief time-out for yourself is enough to ward off total burnout.

 

Assistant editor Jenny Dalzell and photographer Matthew Murphy hopped the train to Philly this month to meet and photograph the gorgeous Arantxa Ochoa. We love the cover image they brought back.

 

“We basically staged a mock class for Arantxa and a few students,” says Jenny about the visit. “But the intensity and integrity that she brought to the session were remarkable. She was really coaching the students—they were sweating and sore by the end.” Furthermore, she says that Arantxa was so genuine and understated about her role with the Pennsylvania Ballet School, which recently reopened with its first class in 20 years. “Matt had to keep reminding her to get in front of the camera. She was doing it all for the girls.”

 

We’d love to hear about your unique take on holiday concerts. “Like” us on Facebook and join the conversation.

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.