Darci Kistler (right) rehearsing company members
In a black, wide-neck T-shirt bearing the words “Drama Queen,” the legendary Darci Kistler coaches dancers on Peter Martins’ Morgen. “For me, the most important thing is not to put Darci on it,” she says, laughing. The Balanchine muse teaches only the steps and music, she says. Nothing else. She leaves it to the dancer to imbue the role with their own sense of self.
In this episode, we hear from a few of New York City Ballet’s 12 ballet masters. While choreographers create the ballets, says director Martins, “ballet masters maintain the ballets” and teach them to dancers.
Jean-Pierre Frohlich joined NYCB as a dancer when he was 17.
Former soloist Kathleen Tracey talks about the obligation she feels to maintain the integrity of an original work while rehearsing it. She often asks herself, “If the choreographer came into the studio, would he or she be happy with what he was seeing?” When that choreographer is the ghost of Mr. B, it’s a pretty weighty responsibility.
Jean-Pierre Frohlich discusses his multifaceted job as teacher, coach mentor, baby-sitter, psychologist and more to the dancers. Both he and Tracey agree you have to develop excellent interpersonal skills to communicate well with dancers of different ages and temperaments.
But in the end, says Tracey, you get to watch dancers onstage and feel proud knowing you helped with that. That’s a feeling all teachers can relate to.