Say What?

While most agree that classical ballet plots can be, ahem, difficult to follow, Marius Petipa—legendary choreographer of Russian ballet—may take the cake for most outrageous. Here, we have a little fun with plot synopses for three famous ballets.

Le Corsaire Premiered 1856 Pirate boy meets slave girl. Rich guy wants slave girl for himself. Luckily, pirate boy steals slave girl away from rich guy. But then mutinous underling pirates plot against pirate boy to deliver slave girl back to rich guy. Pirate boy disguises himself to reclaim slave girl—only to be captured by rich guy’s goons. (This back-and-forth happens a few more times.) Eventually, slave girl and pirate boy safely escape rich guy’s clutches. Post-escape, there’s a shipwreck (because, why not?), but slave girl and pirate boy miraculously live.




La Bayadère Premiered 1877 Nikiya, a bayadère (or temple dancer), is in love with Solor, a warrior. Unfortunately, a high priest has the hots for Nikiya; plus, Solor’s already promised to the raja’s daughter. When the raja’s daughter, sensing competition, has Nikiya killed with (surprise!) a venomous snake, the gods—displeased with the way humans, once again, have screwed everything up—end up going scorched-earth on the entire temple, killing everyone. At least Nikiya and Solor’s spirits end up happily ever after. Oh, and one entire act is an opium-induced dream.




Raymonda Premiered 1898 Princess Raymonda is supposed to be marrying Jean, a gallant French knight, but he’s off at battle. A mysterious White Lady, with help from a few celestial maidens and elves, warns Raymonda in a dream that a dashing Saracen (Arab) knight is going to majorly hit on her. Sure enough, the Saracen arrives at Raymonda’s castle and flirts outrageously, hoping to sway her affection—first with folk dances, then by drugging the rest of the castle’s guests (yep) and, finally, by kidnapping her. Jean appears in the nick of time, bests the Saracen in a duel, and all’s well that ends well.

Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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