News

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.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.